Free(?) Market

 

tumblr_inline_nf1oyfC7CQ1rwpoc4Some things are legal only because a law has yet to forbid them. For example, take the home manufacture of un-serialized, untraceable, “ghost guns.” Building your own firearm is not a federal crime, and people have been doing it for years. The time and expense required have kept the hobby to a very niche market. However, a confluence of events is changing the dynamic. As gun-grabbers make the purchase of commercially manufactured weapons ever more difficult, the market has responded by harnessing technological innovation to bring home manufacturing of firearms within reach of more gun enthusiasts.

3-D printing is one such technology that makes building your own weapon an easier task. The problem with this is that the durability of plastic materials makes them less preferable to metal gun parts. In order to make the required bits out of metal, one has, until now, needed an expensive mill, the cost of which made the project unrealistic for most consumers. One company, Defense Distributed, solved the problem by creating a small CNC mill capable of creating AR-15 lower receivers at a price affordable to almost anyone who wants to make his own semi-automatic rifle. Pre-sales of the machine sold out in less than two days after its announcement. There is, however, a problem. The manufacturer cannot get the machines to its customer because both FedEx and UPS have refused to deliver the mills.

Although no legal prohibition exists, the culture of fear surrounding firearms is creating a market pressure against the home milling machines sufficient to prevent their delivery to end users. This is interesting because there is also a market demand for the machines. Some might believe this is just the free market working out the problem, but I question whether or not that really is the case. I write this because the pressure bearing down on the shippers is legal and political rather than commercial. The statement by UPS makes this clear:

UPS reserves the right to refuse to provide transportation service for, among other reasons, any shipments that create legal, safety or operational concerns. UPS is continuing to evaluate such concerns with regard to the transportation of milling machines used to produce operable firearms but, at this point in time, will not accept such devices for transportation.

FedEx was vague on their reasoning, but it seems clear that these companies are refusing to do business with a particular manufacturer because they fear government reprisal. So, I put the question to the Ricochetti: is this a case of the free market working or is this a case of the market being stifled by government interference even before there is a law forbidding the activity?

Photo Credit: Defense Distributed.

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  1. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    I used to help my dad make parts to repair antique airguns from the 18th and 19th century.

    He still has friends that make replicas.  Cool stuff, a 19th century air rifle is a thing of beauty.

    • #1
  2. skipsul Member
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    This is clearly the case of a market stifled for fear of reprisal.  UPS and Fedex deliver gunsmithing and manufacturing equipment from Brownells, Midway, and large number of other long-established businesses large and small.  When I was building my AK I was able to get all of the jigs and tools sent by these carriers without issue.

    Defense Distributed, however, is a special case in that they have repeatedly dared federal prosecution – they have taunted the thugs in charge, so I’m pretty sure that BATFE called up Fedex and UPS and threatened them with some picayune interstate transit violations.

    The thing is, however, that the DD mills are just that – mills.  They may be specialized, but they are still just CNC mills.  Slap a different brand name on them and sell them as generic mills and you wouldn’t have an issue – something other companies have been doing for a while.  Hobbyist workroom mills are available, but they are quirky and still relatively unapproachable for the novice machinist, and DD claims to have done the work to make them easy to use.

    So I would expect DD to see its assets frozen and its business raided quite soon now, all for selling a hobbyist mill.

    • #2
  3. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Could they break these devices down into smaller pieces and ship the parts separately, almost like replacement parts?  What could their objection possibly be then?

    • #3
  4. user_138562 Moderator
    user_138562
    @RandyWeivoda

    Some of you know more about firearms regulations than me, so tell me how this works.  Some states have gun registration, some don’t.  If you live in California, for instance, and want an AR-15 without the state knowing about it, can’t you just go to a different state, buy it, and bring it home without registering it in California?  Most states don’t forbid gun stores from selling to customers who live outside the state, do they?  Maybe they do and I just don’t know it.

    • #4
  5. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    I wonder if FedEx and UPS refuse to deliver cakes to gay weddings.

    • #5
  6. user_158368 Member
    user_158368
    @PaulErickson

    “…a case of the market being stifled by government interference even before there is a law forbidding the activity…”

    That.

    Is this a turning point?  My guess is that there are other examples of corporations and citizens avoiding perfectly legal activities for fear of governmental “disapproval.”  Conversely, do we go out of our way to do things that we think will keep our overlords happy?

    I can’t think of any at the moment, but I bet the Ricochetti can.

    • #6
  7. user_740328 Member
    user_740328
    @SEnkey

    Paul Erickson:“…

    That.

    Is this a turning point? My guess is that there are other examples of corporations and citizens avoiding perfectly legal activities for fear of governmental “disapproval.” Conversely, do we go out of our way to do things that we think will keep our overlords happy?

    I can’t think of any at the moment, but I bet the Ricochetti can.

    Consider political contributions. The IRS was very effective at silencing many Tea Party factions and those who would have supported them. Even I was a little worried come tax season that I might have an audit coming. Although, now that I think of it, that was more overt pressure- even though no one broke the law.

    • #7
  8. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    The King Prawn: Some things are legal only because a law has yet to forbid them. A perfect example of this is the home manufacture of un-serialized, untraceable, ghost guns. Building your own firearm is not a federal crime, and people have been doing it for years. The time and expense required have kept the hobby to a very niche market. However, a confluence of events is changing the dynamic. As gun grabbers make purchase of commercially manufactured weapons ever more difficult the market has responded by harnessing technological innovation to bring home manufacturing of firearms within reach of more gun enthusiasts.

    One could say the same thing about RC aircraft. Until recently the piloting of RC aircraft was not regulated by the FAA, but was instead regulated privately and voluntarily by RC enthusiast organizations and manufacturers.

    As the cost of RC aircraft has plummeted, at the same time as their capabilities have increased, the pressure on the FAA to regulate increased.

    The difference, of course, is that there’s no mention of RC aircraft in the US Constitution.

    • #8
  9. skipsul Member
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    Randy Weivoda:Some of you know more about firearms regulations than me, so tell me how this works. Some states have gun registration, some don’t. If you live in California, for instance, and want an AR-15 without the state knowing about it, can’t you just go to a different state, buy it, and bring it home without registering it in California? Most states don’t forbid gun stores from selling to customers who live outside the state, do they? Maybe they do and I just don’t know it.

    Oh heck this is a thorny one.  I’ll try to answer as well as I can.

    Ask yourself this question – are you willing to risk getting caught with an unregistered firearm in California, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, or New Jersey?  I can guarantee it will land you in prison, if caught.

    As for interstate purchases – it is a felony to transfer ownership of handgun across state lines – so if you are in say Ohio and see a handgun you like, but live in Virginia, you have to arrange to have the owner transfer that handgun to an Ohio dealer, who will then transfer it to your Virginia dealer, who will then transfer it to you (after your NICS background check).

    Long guns are different, you can sell across state lines a bit more freely.  As an Ohioan myself, I can go into any adjoining state and buy a rifle or shotgun (through a dealer only, not privately), and residents of adjoining states (and only adjoining states) can come to Ohio to buy (again only from dealers).  Not all states allow this however (though Federal law does), but if you go across state lines you always have to go through a dealer.  Private sales (no dealer involved) are often allowed within most states if both parties are residents of that state, but ANY SALE that crosses a state line requires a dealer to be involved.

    To return to your scenario – California also specifically bans many types of firearms that are legal elsewhere.  So an AR15 that is legal in Nevada will land you on a felony possession charge in CA.  Their state registry, moreover, has actually been used to confiscate guns that were legal when registered.  Even if you could buy the gun legally in Nevada, as a California resident no dealer would sell it to you once they saw that CA driver’s license.

    • #9
  10. skipsul Member
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    Regarding home manufacturing, some points need clarified:

    1.  While it is legal for you to make a firearm at home, it must conform to all current state and federal laws regarding form and function – so you cannot build a machine gun.

    2.  Your home built gun does not require any serial numbers – but you probably should serialize it anyway lest some snoopy range officer or law enforcement officer assumes you have a black market gun.  Once you serialize it you do not have to necessarily register it however (see points 3 and 4)

    3.  You cannot sell, transfer, bequeath, or inherit an unserialized gun, or a serialized but unregistered gun.  If you make it, it is yours until you die, then it must be either destroyed or turned in to the BATFE.

    4.  You can serialize your gun and actually register it with the BATFE (and pay a fee to do so).  At this point it can be bequeathed, inherited, sold, or otherwise transferred.  This does not register it to you in the sense of a firearms registry, but the Feds do have a registry of all legal firearms every made or imported into the USA.  BUT – see point 5…

    5.  If you make and register a lot (meaning more than 2 or 3 in a year, depending on the whimsey and caprice of the BATFE) of home built guns, the BATFE will assume you are running an illegal unlicensed manufacturing business and will take everything you own.

    6.  If you make, register, then sell too many home built guns in too short of a time, see point 5 as well – they assume you are doing it for profit, not as a hobby.

    7.  You can avoid most of the trouble above if you buy an already serialized receiver, then build up the rest of the gun yourself. But then it negates the advantage of them not knowing you have it.  Know what risks you are willing to take here.

    • #10
  11. The King Prawn Member
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    As for interstate purchases – it is a felony to transfer ownership of handgun across state lines

    The ban has run into legal troubles of late. Expect many appeals before it is final though.

    • #11
  12. user_138562 Moderator
    user_138562
    @RandyWeivoda

    skipsul:

    Randy Weivoda:Some of you know more about firearms regulations than me, so tell me how this works. Some states have gun registration, some don’t. If you live in California, for instance, and want an AR-15 without the state knowing about it, can’t you just go to a different state, buy it, and bring it home without registering it in California? Most states don’t forbid gun stores from selling to customers who live outside the state, do they? Maybe they do and I just don’t know it.

    Oh heck this is a thorny one. I’ll try to answer as well as I can.

    Ask yourself this question – are you willing to risk getting caught with an unregistered firearm in California, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, or New Jersey? I can guarantee it will land you in prison, if caught.

    As for interstate purchases – it is a felony to transfer ownership of handgun across state lines – so if you are in say Ohio and see a handgun you like, but live in Virginia, you have to arrange to have the owner transfer that handgun to an Ohio dealer, who will then transfer it to your Virginia dealer, who will then transfer it to you (after your NICS background check).

    Long guns are different, you can sell across state lines a bit more freely. As an Ohioan myself, I can go into any adjoining state and buy a rifle or shotgun (through a dealer only, not privately), and residents of adjoining states (and only adjoining states) can come to Ohio to buy (again only from dealers). Not all states allow this however (though Federal law does), but if you go across state lines you always have to go through a dealer. Private sales (no dealer involved) are often allowed within most states if both parties are residents of that state, but ANY SALE that crosses a state line requires a dealer to be involved.

    To return to your scenario – California also specifically bans many types of firearms that are legal elsewhere. So an AR15 that is legal in Nevada will land you on a felony possession charge in CA. Their state registry, moreover, has actually been used to confiscate guns that were legal when registered. Even if you could buy the gun legally in Nevada, as a California resident no dealer would sell it to you once they saw that CA driver’s license.

    Thanks for the education, Skipsul.

    • #12
  13. user_189393 Member
    user_189393
    @BarkhaHerman

    Some things are legal only because a law has yet to forbid them.

    This.

    Rights vs. Grants, people.  We may still speak of rights, but the reality is we are living at the mercy of our benevolent government; more and more everyday.

    • #13
  14. The King Prawn Member
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Rights vs. Grants, people.  We may still speak of rights, but the reality is we are living at the mercy of our benevolent government; more and more everyday.

    You have rightly divined the unstated meaning of the post.

    • #14
  15. user_189393 Member
    user_189393
    @BarkhaHerman

    When a certain Rico member came to FLL for a meetup (the NR cruise was just an excuse), this is the very discussion we ended up having.

    When ever I hear a conservative start talking about limits on our freedoms, I remind them that limits arise only when you operate from the premise of grants.  When you operate from the premise of rights, life is abundant.

    This is why I can “not partake in any vices” yet defend the logic that limits imposed in the name or “our own good” are a bad idea – whatever the vice may be.

    Because once “granted”, freedoms can be taken away and “our own good” is a moving target at best.

    When in doubt, I opt for freedom.

    • #15
  16. Limestone Cowboy Coolidge
    Limestone Cowboy
    @LimestoneCowboy

    I’m reminded of an old Soviet era joke:

    Anything that is explicitly permitted is mandatory. Anthing that is not explicitly permitted is forbidden.

    • #16
  17. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    One has to admire their aesthetic choices in marketing the Ghost Gunner:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwRtll3jjU4

    • #17
  18. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    The King Prawn: Although no legal prohibition exists, the culture of fear surrounding firearms is creating a market pressure against the home milling machines sufficient to prevent their delivery to end users. This is interesting because there is also a market demand for the machines.

    Sounds like a business opportunity for  someone to me.

    • #18
  19. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    SEnkey:

    Paul Erickson:“…

    That.

    Is this a turning point? My guess is that there are other examples of corporations and citizens avoiding perfectly legal activities for fear of governmental “disapproval.” Conversely, do we go out of our way to do things that we think will keep our overlords happy?

    I can’t think of any at the moment, but I bet the Ricochetti can.

    Consider political contributions. The IRS was very effective at silencing many Tea Party factions and those who would have supported them. Even I was a little worried come tax season that I might have an audit coming. Although, now that I think of it, that was more overt pressure- even though no one broke the law.

    There is a large amount of pressure on Banks not to loan to Gun shops, ammunition manufacturers among others as an attempt to “choke” those businesses finances.

    http://oversight.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Staff-Report-FDIC-and-Operation-Choke-Point-12-8-2014.pdf

    • #19
  20. user_357321 Member
    user_357321
    @Jordan

    We saw the same thing with Square, a payment processing platform for small business.  They have a list of restricted goods which also happen to be things which were targeted by Operation Choke Point.  It appears they are doing the government’s job for them.

    I don’t doubt that other carriers of common goods and services are under pressure, perhaps not direct pressure, but implied pressure, to carry the bureaucratic water.

    This is not surprising either.  If you consider how the government collects taxes, or enforces most regulation in general.  It gets corporations and businesses and normal citizens to do all the leg work for them.  Hordes of compliance officers and HR departments are the ones that have to actually do the regulation; all the bureaucrats have to do is sit back and proclaim.

    I know for a fact most foreign banks simply won’t handle American ex-patriot customers simply because the regulatory burden is so onerous, leading to a record number of US citizens renouncing every year.  The foreign banks balk when the Treasury department comes knocking.

    But at the end of the day, we have the government we tolerate.

    • #20
  21. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    @Kozak

    Instapundit has a legal theory that victims of such actions could sue for violations of civil rights.

    • #21
  22. Severely Ltd. Member
    Severely Ltd.
    @SeverelyLtd

    Instugator:@Kozak

    Instapundit has a legal theory that victims of such actions could sue for violations of civil rights.

    I think this is an odious action by Fedex and UPS, but they’re in the private sector and taking legal action would be wrong.

    • #22
  23. Severely Ltd. Member
    Severely Ltd.
    @SeverelyLtd

    Barkha Herman:This.

    Rights vs. Grants, people. We may still speak of rights, but the reality is we are living at the mercy of our benevolent government; more and more everyday.

    Barkha, I’m in full agreement here, but knowing you to be an atheist I wonder what you base your belief in Rights on. Do you believe Rights exist in a transcendental, platonic realm minus a creator? (This ain’t trolling, I have too much respect for you to do that.)

    • #23
  24. user_189393 Member
    user_189393
    @BarkhaHerman

    Severely Ltd.:

    Barkha, I’m in full agreement here, but knowing you to be an atheist I wonder what you base your belief in Rights on. Do you believe Rights exist in a transcendental, platonic realm minus a creator? (This ain’t trolling, I have too much respect for you to do that.)

    At the risk of taking over this thread, I will answer briefly:  Theism is not my cup of tea.

    • #24
  25. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    @severelyLTD Not if a Oregon Baker can be forced to bake cakes for gay weddings. This is also a public accommodation.

    • #25
  26. user_189393 Member
    user_189393
    @BarkhaHerman

    Well – My first reaction was – so what?  FedEx & UPS are private companies.  But the issue here IS Operation Choke Point.

    It is the unholy relationship between Government and Corporations that is at play here.

    Cody Wilson, though is a good PR guy, and is using this to illustrate a point.

    • #26
  27. Fake John Galt Coolidge
    Fake John Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Barkha Herman:Well – My first reaction was – so what? FedEx & UPS are private companies. But the issue here IS Operation Choke Point.

    It is the unholy relationship between Government and Corporations that is at play here.

    Cody Wilson, though is a good PR guy, and is using this to illustrate a point.

    That was my thoughts there.  While not illegal the powers that be, does not like the activity.  So while they can not make it illegal without a political cost they can make it so expensive to all parties involved that they do not do it.

    There was a point in the past that all rights belong to the individual unless given up to the local, state or the federal governments.  Now the common consensus seems to be that it is illegal unless the federal, state or local government says it is legal.

    • #27
  28. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Barkha Herman:

    Severely Ltd.:

    Barkha, I’m in full agreement here, but knowing you to be an atheist I wonder what you base your belief in Rights on. Do you believe Rights exist in a transcendental, platonic realm minus a creator? (This ain’t trolling, I have too much respect for you to do that.)

    At the risk of taking over this thread, I will answer briefly: Theism is not my cup of tea.

    Although I assert that we do possess natural rights that doesn’t mean that those rights didn’t have to be forcibly taken from a tyrant by right of conquest.

    Such rights, even though they exist naturally can still be denied by a hegemon.

    • #28
  29. skipsul Member
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    Barkha Herman:Well – My first reaction was – so what? FedEx & UPS are private companies. But the issue here IS Operation Choke Point.

    It is the unholy relationship between Government and Corporations that is at play here.

    Cody Wilson, though is a good PR guy, and is using this to illustrate a point.

    Exactly – if he didn’t want a fight he could just have made and sold cheap CNC mills – absolutely identical to the ones he sells now.  By deliberately associating the mills with guns, however, he has poked Obama and the BATFE in the eye.  This thin-skinned regime cannot stand mockery or direct challenge, they are vindictive and petty, so they are trying to put the hurt on Cody.

    • #29
  30. Severely Ltd. Member
    Severely Ltd.
    @SeverelyLtd

    Instugator:@severelyLTD Not if a Oregon Baker can be forced to bake cakes for gay weddings. This is also a public accommodation.

    I meant that we betray our principles if we go that route. Mine anyway.

    • #30

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